Modernism and Magic

We’re delighted to announce the publication of Leigh Wilson’s new book Modernism and Magic: Experiments with Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult (Edinburgh University Press), which we will be launching at the Green Man pub in Riding House Street on Thursday 10th January.

The book presents a new account of the relation between modernism and occult discourses. While modernism’s engagement with the occult has been approached by critics as the result of a loss of faith in representation, an attempt to draw on science as the primary discourse of modernity, or as an attempt to draw on a hidden history of ideas, Wilson argues that these discourses have at their heart a magical practice which remakes the relationship between world and representation. As she demonstrates, the courses of the occult are based on a magical mimesis which transforms the nature of the copy, from inert to vital, from dead to alive, from static to animated, from powerless to powerful. Modernism and Magic explores the aesthetic and political implications of this relationship in the work of those writers, artists and filmmakers who were most self-consciously experimental, including James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Dziga Vertov and Sergei M. Eisenstein.

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